The best way CNN founder Ted Turner could describe the environmental crisis facing humanity, as he sees it, on Sunday was with a baseball analogy:

"It's the seventh inning and we're down by two runs," Turner said. "We have to hold them where they are and put three runs on the board in the last two innings."

Convince people to have fewer children. Convince coal and oil industry leaders to shift toward wind, solar and other alternative energy sources. Convince the world's leaders to abandon nuclear weapons.

Turner pulled a copy of the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty out of his wallet and read it to the guests at Iron Horse Winery in Sebastopol as they sipped wine on hay bales at the hilltop vineyard. He thinks big, and he told the people gathered for a pre-Earth Day gala at the winery to demand big changes toward earth-friendly policies.

"Failure is not an option," Turner said.

About 300 people listened to Turner discuss his hopes for the planet with National Geographic adventurer Boyd Matson at the benefit wine-tasting event.

The billionaire's message left Jack Rohrman, 72, of Santa Rosa with a mixture of hope and overwhelm.

"It's almost an impossible dream," Rohrman said. "I guess you've got to have hope."

Sunday's benefit was the vineyard's fifth annual Earth Day event, said Joy Sterling, Iron Horse chief executive officer. Guests paid $65 to hear Turner's talk and try wines from Green Valley wineries and bison steaks from Turner's purveyor. Special $300 tickets bought visitors a private tasting event with the billionaire guest of honor.

The profits from ticket sales will go toward Turner's Captain Planet Foundation, which supports youth environmental education programs.

Sterling met Turner in 1979 as a news editor at KPIX Radio in San Francisco, a CBS affiliate, and later went to work for him at TBS' evening television news.

The event's theme was the future, she said.

"What we can do now, we can do it better," Sterling said. "It's all about moving forward."

Guests wandered out of the sun and into an art exhibit called "Vintage Future," curated by Santa Rosa artist Spring Maxfield, one of the organizers of the Great Handcar Regatta.

The Thennagin Bomber, a vehicle powered by pedaling and created by a Santa Rosa collective of inventors called WhiskeyDrunk Cycles, anchored the show.

Three of the Bomber's creators, Joshua Thwaites, Klaus Rappensperger and Joey Castor, said Turner's message that anything is possible resonated with them.

"That's 100 percent what we've experienced," Thwaites said.

The creators combined the motor of a Honda XR100, a Toyota Corolla's steering box and a 1917 Ford Model T's front axle, among other parts, to create the zero-emmissions machine.

"We've had some failures, mainly with brakes," said Rappensperger.

"But that's how it gets started," Thwaites said.

"It starts with the ember of an idea," said Castor, their colleague.

You can reach Staff Writer Julie Johnson at 521-5220 or julie.johnson@pressdemocrat.com.